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TEEN: Timeslip (SV AU)

Intro & Chapter 1

Nekodatta

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May 2, 2024
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Pronouns
  1. She/Her
What is Timeslip?
To put it simply, it's a slow burn AU romance about Professor Sada and Turo from the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet games, that changes a singular but drastic thing about them and is now having fun exploring all the possible ramifications of it. And feels. Lots of feels. And time travel shenanigans.
After playing Pokémon Violet and getting emotionally destroyed by it, not to mention getting out of it with one of the biggest obsessions for some characters I've had in a while (which is ironic, considering how... little we actually know about them), I started thinking about this saga. The basic idea was founded on a theory that floated around before the games actually came out and as soon the "past vs future" theme of the games started to become obvious: what if Professor Turo and Sada actually were from a far off future and past, and after somehow meeting they ended up stranded in 21th century-Paldea together?
How could it happen?
What would drastically change about them (and indirectly the game's plot)? What would stay the same?
What started as a fun thought experiment then spiraled into pretty much its own thing, and was enough to convince me to pick up writing again after some ten years or more of hiatus. Before this, I had never written anything in English or really nothing longer than a oneshot or 2-3 chapters at the most, so this fic is my first time approaching a lot of things in a sense. It's been a lot of fun.

I've already posted this fic on various other platforms: as of now, the fic is almost 200k words long and still going strong and I update pretty regularly (or try to).

Comments and impressions are very welcome!

Warnings: Some light swearing and violence.


Chapter 1: First landing
14'000 years in the past, in the area that will be known as Kalos, Paleolithic Era

The first thing that young Turo, Ph. D in Applications of Time Traveling at the University of Mesagoza thought after opening his eyes was

"Well, this sure isn't Lumiose City".

He was, all things considered, pretty calm for a man who had just stepped into a time machine for the first time in his life and just got catapulted into an unknown time that was nothing like he was expecting. It was a lot more cold, for starters.

Or maybe he was a bit too used to the perfectly controlled temperature of the labs. But sure, those things could happen. Time traveling was not a really exact field... Mostly because there is a lot of time you could end up into in the "past" direction and even more in the "future" direction, so one of the first hurdles to overcome to avoid unfortunate accidents had been to develop a way to make sure that you could always come back. It was all in the manuals and papers that he spent weeks reading, studying, dreaming and in the end almost hallucinating to the point of being able to recite by memory when he had started his studies.

He checked the little device similar to a wristwatch on his arm. Battery was low, but everything looked functional. The little device responsible for anchoring him to his time would recharge in a couple hours time, as long as the sun was out. If the sun wasn't out, it could recharge simply by walking, but that would take definitely more time, not to mention effort, because you would be stuck running a couple miles either in the rain, at night, or in the rain at night just to get back home, and who wants that, really? (And that's the reason why rainy places were not a good spot for time traveling to, he discovered: nothing more than human laziness)

He had ended up in a forest. And that was.... Already not something he was used to. His time, barring some extremely remote (and extremely costly) places, was not.... Really big on the whole "living with nature" stuff. Not because they didn't want to, of course. The times were people could simply walk into a forest, maybe even with a Pokémon or two with them, were a pretty popular subject in media. Entire VR simulators were built around them (with realistic nature sounds!), milking the desire for times long gone that no one alive had the chance to live in. Well, except if you time traveled there... But time traveling was still pretty new as a field of research, and of course, for the general public, it would have been so expensive that only one 50-minutes trip anywhere and anywhen would cost you so much that you were better off investing your life savings in planning that move to the Natural Reserve of Hoenn.

Nice place, if you didn't mind active volcanoes that rained ash. Or Groudon and Kyogre having a staring contest every couple of decades requiring mass evacuations. Or too much water. But he was getting distracted. Point was, he was in a forest. A real forest, with real leaves. And the sun! A real sun, not an hologram with artificial light projected onto the walls of the laboratory so people didn't lose their minds not stepping outside for days! He spent a good minute just staring at the light that shined across the leaves, mesmerized, hands in his lab coat's pockets, before moving some hesitant steps. There was no traces of a trail or any other sign that people had ever visited this place. He had wanted to land in the Lumiose City of almost 15 years ago - nothing big for his first time jump, just a little test run, walk around a bit, grab a PokePuffin, listen to some 15 years old music - so the place should have been the same, but the time.... There wasn't even traces of a city. Maybe he messed up the calibration of the machine and accidentally went back 140 years? No, the city was much older than that. 1400 years...? That would put him... Still quite a bit past the League Golden Age. The times were everything seemed perfect, were people were living in harmony with Pokémon and enjoying the longest time of peace that the world had ever known... If you excluded some crazy guys that wanted to destroy the world or remake it or whatever it was in a couple of very, very intense decades.

Turo could hear a stream gurgling on his left; he followed it, figuring that streams and rivers had always been a place to meet people in any era. His pace hastened when he finally heard a human voice, humming to itself. He went around a little curve in the riverbed and stepped out from the cover of the trees.... And then immediately stopped, frozen in place. There was a person there, a woman with light brown hair wearing what he could only describe as "stereotypical caveman clothes". She was fishing in the river for something, humming, and a mean looking spear with a sharp stone point was laying on a flat rock at arms reach.

Shit. Shit. Now he had done it.

Years of studies, of planning, his first opportunity to actually concretely apply what he had spent so much time studying and he ended up in the Paleolithic age. As far as he knew, that's the farthest someone had ever time traveled... No wonder his time-anchor's batteries were so low. People were not even sure if it was possible to go that far back. Guess he had an answer now, if he made it back, that is...

He started to quietly back away, but his boots creaked on some branches. The woman whirled around in a flash, grabbing the spear with astounding reflexes, her eyes widening when they landed on him. Turo did the first thing that came to mind: slowly raised his hands, in what he hoped was already an universal sign for "I'm unarmed, don't shoot". Or.... Or stab, in this case.

« I-I come in peace...» he mumbled, feeling stupid while doing so.

It's not like she could understand him. Did ... Did people even have language already at this point...? Turo knew a good bit about history(in his field of work where punching the wrong numbers in could land you in some nasty situations, who didn't?), but the problem with going so far back was that inventions and development were measured in the span of thousands of years. A lot of room for error, there.

He didn't move an inch while the woman stared him down, still wide-eyed. Well, he didn't blame her.... His clothes must stand out a lot. If he had landed as planned 14 years ago, nobody would have batted an eye at his skin tight body suit and lab coat. The dark violet suit was pretty common in his time, being made of a material that was quite suitable to a lot of different environments and capable of checking vitals, automatically regulate body temperature, and a lot of other functions that were honestly utterly useless at the moment. The lab coat was.... Ok, the lab coat wasn't exactly required to time travel, or at all, but it was just rule of cool. He liked his lab coat.

Here, on the other hand...

"Please don't stab me thinking that I'm some evil spirit or Pokémon" he silently pleaded, shaking slightly. He almost literally jumped back and closed his eyes when the woman suddenly moved, thrusting the spear forward. A moment later and he heard a light tap on his chest.

He slowly opened his eyes again; the woman was... tapping the side of the spear along his arms and legs. It's almost like she was checking for some hidden weapons, quickly circling him. When she comes back around she seemed satisfied that he really doesn't seem to be an immediate danger, because she lowered the spear, smiled and then unmistakably opened her mouth and asked him something.

And he just stared at her in confusion. She's got little fangs. Is... Is that normal? A mutation? Something that humans had that disappeared along the way and they never found traces of it? At least she seems to have language, not that it helps him particularly... She tilted her head to the side, staring at him with clear, light grey eyes, then repeated the question, which sadly does not make it any more comprehensible.

He just shook his head(another gesture that he hopes is already universal), and she frowned for a second, before moving a step forward. Turo automatically moved one back by instinct, still with his arms raised, and that's when she grabbed one of his arms and pulled it towards her to examine it. She seemed... Fascinated by his lab coat, and it took him a moment to realize that it's probably because of the color and texture. Such a stark, shiny white is probably even more unnatural than purple to her. There's like... berries and fruits for purple, right? And Pokémon furs, even just the common Rattata is purple.

She rubbed the hem of the lab coat between her fingers, and Turo found himself staring at her with the same fascination that she seems to have for his clothes. He thought back to the stereotypical way the first humans were represented in movies and books, as brutish, grunting savages, and realized how stupid that is. Her eyes are brimming with the same curiosity he has when challenged with some inexplicable puzzle. Her head suddenly snapped back up, and he jumped a little when she stared at him with a mix of curiosity and frustration, before asked the same thing again, this time slowly, like she was talking to a child.

"She knows we don't speak the same language." he realized. Probably thought that he was from some far away tribe or something... People lived in nomadic tribes around this time, right...? She huffed and shook her head, such a normal gesture that it just makes the whole situation only more surreal, then moved the hand that was not holding the spear and pointed to herself.

« Sada. Sa-da»

The hand pointed to him next, and his eyes widen in realization. ... Honestly, it must say something about his state of mind that he didn't think about doing something like this sooner. Must be the shock.

... Sure, let's go with that.

Not him being an idiot that managed to fling himself at the beginning of human civilization. Nope.

« Turo. Tu-ro»

She gave him an enormous smile at his answer and moved back to the riverside, motioning for him to follow. And... Really?

He shouldn't. He really shouldn't. He should be running away and avoiding all signs of civilization to keep the risk of catastrophically influencing all of human history to a minimum. The Beautifly effect and all that. But then again.... It's not like he has encountered an entire village or something. It's just one girl. And he is still stuck here for the next couple hours until his time-anchor recharges. And staying with her surely is more safe than wandering the forest completely defenseless and getting mauled by a prehistoric Ursaring or something. She is the one with the spear and advantage of knowing the land, after all.

Turo took a couple of long breaths. He can do this. He can manage a couple hours. He is a scientist, he is going to use this as a learning opportunity. Being able to directly experience life in this era! He could.... Write a paper on it, or something.

Turo followed her to the river, where the girl - Sada - proceeded to excitedly show him what she was working on. A string of leather and what looks like a bunch of tiny scales, tooth and feathers, probably gathered from wild Pokémon. She pointed to a similar necklace that was already hanging from her neck. Oh... So she was gathering materials for another one? She sat down by his side and started to work on the new necklace, pausing every couple of seconds to point at something in view and enunciate it's name. Grass. Rock. Water... At least, that's what she is pointing at, so he is going to assume that's what she is doing. He tried to copy her words and started doing the same almost unconsciously before stopping.

What is he doing? Trying to teach her his language or to learn hers, trying to communicate?

In a couple of hours he will be back in his time and never see her again, and she will have been dead for literally more than ten thousand years, all traces of their weird encounter erased from history.

That thought unsettled him more than it should: maybe he isn't cut out for being a time traveler if something that obvious still upsets him that much.

« ... Turo?» Sada looked at him hesitantly; she kept stealing glances at him while talking - or at his weird clothes, more probably - and must have noticed his sudden sullen expression.

He managed a smile to reassure her and pointed at something new, mostly to distract her.

« "Sun"»

---

They both stumbled their way through some incredibly basic vocabulary, and even started a crude game of quiz by pointing at something and waiting for the other to recite the respective word in the other's language. She gave him one of the necklaces she had completed in the meantime, pretty much pushing it into his hands even when he tried to refuse (is it going to be ok bringing it back with him? Necklaces with real teeth and Pokémon scales aren't exactly... in style, in his time).

All in all, it's somewhat fun, even if simultaneously incredibly frustrating by how little they both can communicate. Sometimes Sada would just start muttering to herself, frustrated by something that she doesn't know how to explain or to ask him. He is sure of it, because in all that time the eyes of the girl have never stopped being so... Excited, shining with curiosity and a burning desire to understand the weird guy she suddenly met. She probably is trying to teach him words figuring that he was going to stay around, and that kind of broke his heart.

Turo tried to stealthily check the time-anchor on his wrist, not wanting to gather attention on it. The battery had reached full capacity and should be able to transport him back at any moment. Problem is, he can't exactly.... Poof out of existence in front of her eyes, or he is probably going to go come back to his time and find out that a weird robed figure in white and purple had suddenly been depicted in some ancient cave paintings in Kalos puzzling historians, if not something worse. His superiors were never going to let him hear the end of it.

No, he had to... Distract her and get away. Somehow. He rose to his feet and awkwardly tried to find an excuse with the like.... twenty words he knew.

.... Yeah, not much he could do here. He pointed to himself and then from where he came from, miming some walking with his hands. Sada nodded solemnly and stood up, gathering her spear and the couple of necklaces she had completed in the meantime, evidently wanting to accompany him. What? No. This is even worse. Doesn't she have a family to go back to?

Wait.... She's isn't thinking that he wants to be brought to her group, right? Absolutely not. Way too dangerous.

He fumbled in his pockets for something to give her as a little farewell gift; the only things in them are... A little paper notebook and a pen. The pen is not made of plastic, thank Arceus, they stopped using that stuff that took forever to decompose a good dozen of centuries ago in favor of new, more eco-friendly materials. These things should be okay, right...? They will leave no trace and become useless the moment she used them all up. He clicked the pen and showed her how to write with it on the notebook, and was rewarded by her eyes immediately lighting up with excitement. She grabbed the pen and started doodling on the first page, completely absorbed by it.

He bolted for the trees as soon as her eyes are off him and activated the time-anchor the instant he is out of view, disappearing in a sudden flash of light.

When the head researcher reads his report on the trip the following days, he gets both complimented in somehow managing that trip and banned from using the time machine for a month.
 
Chapter 2: Stranger
Chapter 2: Stranger
When Turo first gives her something that he pulled out from that shiny mantle he is wearing, Sada can't help but get excited. Trading between other communities is nothing new, but it's always... The usual stuff. Furs, obsidian and other rocks and gems that they can't get here, like tooth and scales from creatures that don't live in this area.

Sometimes food. This was new; she had never seen such garments, especially not so perfectly made. She thought that she wasn't half bad at sewing clothes, but when she tried to examine that cloth, she couldn't find a single seam or hole where the needle went through. Whoever did that must have been incredible in their art.

And... And the feeling! It was so smooth to the touch and so different from the pelts she was used to working with: the creature it came from must have had some incredible fur. She had tried to ask him where he came from, but it didn't look like he had understood her question. She is so focused on examining that new material that it takes her a moment to notice that the man is running away.

« Wait!» she calls after him, but loses some precious seconds in grabbing her belongings: writing tool in one hand, the sheets of ... stuff in the other, she has to fumble around a moment before managing to grab her spear and start running. He is already far off into the trees, hidden from view, but the rustling of his clothes and the crunch of leaves under his shoes is still clearly audible... And then it stops, suddenly.

She catches up to where he was, and finds him just.... gone. Vanished without a trace. She checks the trail of footprints he left behind: the shoes he was wearing were also weird. Heavy and smooth, they almost looked like they were a single piece with his purple clothes. They honestly didn't look very comfortable: how does he take them off? Do they come off.... All in one go, all or nothing? But they do leave some nice, clear imprints in the ground... Which again, doesn't really sound that safe if you want to avoid predators, but makes it more convenient for her, so she is not going to complain. But the footprints don't tell her much: they also just vanish suddenly.

How? Is he a really good climber? She raises her eyes and starts checking the tree branches over her head. Did he... Climb them and start jumping from tree to tree? Did he step in his own footprints backwards to throw her off and then went another way? She keeps looking around for a bit, but can't find any other clue about what happened. Someone else would have been suspicious, troubled.... Maybe even scared.

Sada just tilts her head to the side.

"... interesting"

She gathers her things -properly this time -, and starts to make her way back. She is quite a bit away from her settlement; they've set up tents and plan to stay there for a couple more full moons, until the snow starts to fall more often and the herds of Steady Glaciers - the great wooly beasts with icy breath - will move further north. If she walks briskly, she will have to spend only one night alone before meeting up with the rest of her group; men usually are the ones who go out hunting, but it's not unusual for women who are not taking care of children to also explore and scout ahead. Finding new possible food sources, exploring trails and of course monitoring the creatures to make sure that nothing dangerous got too close to the settlement... There was always something to do, and no hands to spare. She personally enjoys exploring much more than being stuck paying attention to a bunch of kids, even if it was more dangerous. It gave her time to think, especially when it lead to strange experiences like that of today.

That man... Just where had he gone off to?

When the sun disappears and night comes, she opts to stop for the night; she's been following the river backwards the whole time, but cautiously decides that it's better to not stay too near the water. Night creatures could possibly come to drink, and she would be too easy of a target. She enters the thick of the trees again until she finds a nice spot to camp. With her back against the great trunk of a pine tree, she clears the area around the roots, gathers some rocks from the river and places them in a circle to light a fire. Still a bit damp, the rocks will prevent it spreading too much, and the little spiky leaves and branches will make for good fuel. From a little leather pouch tied to her hip, she pulls out some berries she has picked up along the way.

She's got a good variety gathered; they are perfect to eat while walking, and in a pinch, some of them can even be used against creatures. She has been carefully observing which kind creatures like to eat and which they don't, and the effect they seem to have on them. Satisfied, she quickly eats a dinner of some of the hardest berries cooked on the fire and then goes back to her most pressing concern: examining Turo's gifts, obviously.

They were also both from some never seen material - honestly, did that guy have anything she had ever seen before, except for his being a person?-. The pieces that he showed her how to paint on were both incredibly thin and light as feathers, and bound together with what she could only guess was some sort of tree bark. That sure was a smart way to make sure they didn't fall off... It was also both pretty flexible and fragile at the same time; it crinkled easily, leaving marks, and it also tore at the slightest pull.

That saddened her a bit: she didn't want to waste it... She stared at the little corner she had accidentally ripped off, way too small to draw on and, after a moment of consideration, cautiously licked it. It.... Tasted a bit like leaves. Less bitter, and much more dry. Was it a kind of leaf? Sada stares at the pine needles that she was keeping in a little pile near her for the fire for a second.

... She was not going to start tasting every single leaf to find which one this sheets were made of, even if a part of her kinda wanted to. Too risky. Better to just ask Turo when she saw him again.

Still... If it was a leaf... She threw the little piece in her hands in the fire and watched it burn almost incredibly fast, blackening and turning to ash in a split second. She nodded to herself, happy to have her little idea confirmed; with how dry it was, no wonder it burned so quickly. And maybe like anything else from Turo it had come from some unknown creature: there were quite a lot of plant ones, even if most of them didn't seem to like the cold. That was fine by her: the plant creatures were dangerous, with bright flowers that could shoot seeds and colored dust that could put a person to sleep, make them sick, or even immobilize them completely, leaving them in the worst state she could fathom, fully conscious but completely helpless.

A chill that had nothing to do with the cold crawled along her back, and she made sure to check the branches overhead. Some of those creatures could even hang from trees, but if there is one thing they seemed to hate more than the cold, it was fire. She should be safe here. Still... If some group of people was really out there using leaves from some creatures just to make little sheets to draw on... They must have been pretty gutsy to try and do something like that. She distracts herself by examining the writing utensil next. This one is more familiar apart from the material, pretty much a tube filled with some tincture. The fact that it was still liquid and hadn't already dried though, that was remarkable. You could carry it around and there was no need to continuously mix ash or dirt with water. Maybe it was also an ability of some kind? She would keep an eye out for creatures that showed some power of the sort...

She keeps doodling on the leaves for quite some time into the night, unable to sleep, mind racing from one thought to another.

---

« Um, mother?»

The next day, after reaching the settlement, she first approaches her mom, who's busy mending some clothes with a needle made out of bone and some leather strips. Her mother is getting quite old; her hair has streaks of white peeking out, her hands are getting wrinkled, but her mind is as sharp as ever and most importantly, as the current oldest person in the settlement, she has experience.

« What is it, dear?» she asks, without pausing in her work, bone hook sliding in and out of the fur in her hands at incredible speed. She ponders how to best describe what she wants to ask.

« Do you know of some tribe that has some.... Weird clothes? I've met this man one night ago, and he was... Strange. Didn't speak our language, so I was wondering where he was from, and he got away before I could ask.» Now she pauses in her work, quietly lifting her head and waiting for her to continue.

« He had purple clothes that looked almost like they were clinging to his skin, and I couldn't see any fur on them... They looked more like they were made from some incredibly tiny scales. »

« Were they warm clothes?»

Sada almost gasps, immediately recognizing what her mother was pointing at.

« No, they didn't look very warm... He also had this... shiny mantle to cover him, but it didn't look like it would do much... Have you seen people like him? Are they from the south?» she asks, hopeful.

Her mother thinks for a moment.

« Can't say I have... Purple and white, you said? And "shiny"?» she sounds confused.

Honestly, she feels the same. That mantle seems useless to her no matter how you looked at it, if not straight up dangerous. Way too bright to help in hiding yourself in the underbrush, and it flapped around making a lot of noise while moving.

« I had never seen such a pure white. It was like fresh snow. »

« That seems horrible for hiding, unless he is actually from the far north... »

« But he would die from the cold even with the sun out in those clothes, so he can't be from up there.» Sada objects.

Her mother nods, and slowly resumes her sewing.

« Then he must be from the south, where it's much warmer. Far over the mountains... We traded for a bit with a group that came from over there... Didn't have some "shiny mantle", but I remember clothes made of scales, smooth and really hard to the touch. »

That could be it! But if he is from the south... Something else does not add up now, she realizes after a second.

« There's also... another thing that is weird about him. » she ponders aloud.

This one was a bit more subtle, it had been nagging at her from the moment she had first seen him. Just this incredibly subtle feeling of wrongness that had lasted for a second looking at him, before being replaced by excitement.

« He is too.... Clean.» Her mother looks up at her again, now giving her daughter her full attention.

Sada tries to put into words what she has noticed.

« His clothes are almost impossibly well done, but it's not just that... He is incredibly pale, like someone who hasn't seen the sun... Ever, and his face, his hair and beard, his hands, they were just so...»

She stops, frustrated because she has no idea how to describe it.

« So... Tidy. No scars, no cuts, not a single injury that I could see. Not even a bruise! And he had no weapons with him... nothing.»

Traveling (apparently) alone, with no weapons, no signs of tear or use in his garments or on his body, with clothes that were just begging to get him eaten by some creature... It was more than strange. It was impossible.

« Pale, weird clothes, no marks on his body, disappears... He is starting to sound more like a spirit than a man to me.» his mother smiles shaking her head.

Sada looks at her for a second, almost disappointed. A spirit...? Some long lost ancestor of them that supposedly appears to give you advice, like in the stories told around the fire?

That would be.... so boring if that was the case. Also he didn't exactly give her advice, in fact it had been the opposite: some lousy ancestor that he was if he didn't even have some great wisdom to impart.

« No! He is a real person, I just know it...and I will find out what's going on with him. » she announces, determined.

---

First thing to do, of course, is meeting him again, which is easier said than done. She has no idea where he went off to so the only thing she can do is go back to the point of their first meeting, hoping to catch him there again. For a couple of days, nothing new happens, and Sada grows increasingly frustrated. How is it possible for someone like that man to just... Leave no traces of his passage behind? Not even traces of a camp, places where he could have spent the night? She starts to keep track of every place she checks on the leaves Turo gave her, sketching a crude drawing of the area; after a moment of consideration, a couple of crude symbols get added to mark places where she knows certain creatures have established their territories.

A little flame to mark the place where the pack of black fire breathing creatures usually hunts.

One stylized feather to mark the nest of one of those aggressive flying ones, and a long fang to mark an area where the rivers drops in a short waterfall, infested with Brutal Fangs.

Those places in particular should be safe to exclude from her search... Surely no one is going to just walk through places that are clearly inhabited and dangerous?

Sada gets proven wrong not even half a day later; she had just finished gathering some more berries for lunch, when a sudden loud roar from the waterfall echoes through the air.

She jumps to her feet, spear in hand, and listens cautiously: is it a struggle between two Brutal Fangs? Fighting for territory? Food? Those things are vicious, she has seen them (carefully, from a distance) simply fly into a rage and attack each other at random while peacefully swimming next to each other just a moment before. She waits for a second roar to echo, or for the telling sound of snapping teeth and wild thrashing.

What she hears instead is a muffled, panicked and obviously human scream. For a long second, she can't even move, dumbfounded.

... He didn't... no one can be that oblivious to their surroundings, can they?


Sada starts sprinting towards the river at full speed; bursting out of the trees, the nearby waterfall comes into view, and at its base, near the edge of the water and with his back to her, Turo seems to have fallen backwards and is desperately scrambling to his feet. The Brutal Fang, it's vivid red scales glistening from the water it just jumped out from, opens its mouth full of teeth and barrels towards the man, who manages to avoid it at the last second by rolling to the side, causing the creature to crash head first into the gravel on the riverbank, avoiding him by an inch. Not missing a beat and evidently not caring about being on dry land, the red and gold fish thrashes violently against the ground until it rights itself, it's eyes never losing sight of its target. Who, by the way, seems too busy being paralyzed by fear to actually do something useful like, oh I don't know, run for his life. Sada's incredulity turns first to worry and then rage.

She didn't spend the last three days camping here just to watch him get eaten by a stupid fish!

The creature jumps again, and she readies her spear.

« Get down!» she screams, hoping that the urgency in her tone will get the message across.

He catches sight of her at hearing her voice and hurls himself to the side, the spear passing right over him and hitting the Brutal Fang straight in the forehead. Admittedly, it doesn't do much, but it kills its momentum and makes it crash back into the shallow water. Before it can regain its wits, Sada pulls out a yellow berry from her pouch and throws it at the creature, stunning it for a moment.

Evidently deciding that they weren't worth the trouble, the creature lets out a last echoing bellow and then sinks back down into the river with a great splash, disappearing from sight and splashing them both.

Sada isn't fooled, though: they are not the kind of creatures that call for backup, but it could still change its mind and lunge at them again. She recovers her spear as quickly as she can and whirls around towards Turo.

Other than being drenched from head to toe, he appears unarmed, his purple clothes curiously glistening like the water was smoothly sliding off them instead of getting soaked. First thing he does is check his wrist, strangely; she pulls closer to see if he did get injured after all, but he seems to notice her intentions and slips his hand into one of the folds of his mantle, hiding it from sight.

She pouts a bit, disappointed: he's obviously hiding something from her, and that just makes her want to know what it is even more. Then she realizes what just happened.

« What. Were. You. Doing?» she asks, punctuating every word with a tap of her spear, stomping towards him.

Seriously, what was he thinking? Didn't they have Brutal Fangs were he was from? But even if he had never seen one before, how could you simply stroll near something that obviously had creatures nearby? With how strong they were, you had to assume that every creature you met was aggressive! Well... Almost every creature, there were some more docile ones admittedly, but... Brutal Fangs were obviously not docile. There was a reason they had given them that name after all.

If she had gotten there a moment later, he would have been lunch.

He looks at her spear somewhat alarmed, obviously not understanding her, his eyes flitting between her and the pointed stone tip. She sighs and lowers the weapon, even if just to reassure him that she has no real ill will.

« Let's get warmed up.» she offers him her free hand and he takes it after a long moment of hesitation, still keeping the other hidden.

His hand is warm, bigger than hers, but strangely soft and smooth, with long, slender fingers. She can't help but stare at them for a moment, puzzled.

That really looks like the hand of someone who hasn't worked a day in his life. They are children's hands, it's unnatural.

They go back to the camp she had set up in the past three days; she sits him down on a log and points at the ashes left from last night's fire.

« "Fire"» she then points to the ground, glaring at him like she would with a hyperactive child that won't stay still.

« Stay here. Don't move. I'm going to get some more food.» she huffs, moving away.

She pointedly stares at him for a couple more seconds, almost expecting him to pull another magical disappearing act as soon as she looks away, but he just lowers his head and scoffs, looking almost... Embarrassed.Seems like he got the message.

She is going to gather some more berries, trusting him to start the fire in the meantime. They can keep working on their vocabulary after she comes back.

« Sada....» his voice reaches her at the edge of the camp and the woman stops, looking over her shoulder.

« Thank you » The words are unfamiliar, but the gratitude and relief in them are palpable.

He suddenly looks so... Vulnerable and lost, sitting on that log with his strange clothes and eyes that still have that trace of fear in them.

.... A complete mystery.

Just who is that man?

She simply nods, and disappears into the trees.
 
Chapter 3: Future Looks Good
Chapter 3: Future Looks Good
Travelling back (or technically forward?) in time to the place he had come from was much more disorienting that Turo expected. Maybe it was because, when he had stepped into the time machine a couple of hours before, he had had the time to prepare mentally. There was a whole procedure to follow while setting up the time machine in preparation for a jump; other than being necessary to avoid messing something up (which he still had done... Somehow), it helped people concentrate. Prepare. Even relax, if necessary.

Getting back using the time anchor was much more sudden, and he stumbled while getting out of the time machine, his mind still half convinced that he was walking on damp leaves and uneven terrain instead of the perfectly pristine and smooth tiles of the Time Travel Department Laboratory.

« Time anchor ID 9537 has returned from space-time coordinates 48°51′12″ N, 2°20′55″ E, timestamp in seconds 441504000000-»

« Just save those coordinates to my ID before you get a stroke trying to pronounce that.» Turo interrupted the smooth artificial voice that had spoken from the time machine while he headed for the door.

There was a moment of silence, then something behind his back moved suddenly; Turo stopped when the sleek, round figure of a Porygon 568 zipped around him and stopped him from exiting the room, floating at eye level with the human.

It still had the basic shape of a duck; why the very first Porygon had been designed with that shape in mind was a bit of a mystery: maybe because it had been simpler to code and render, or the dude responsible just really liked duck Pokémon, but it had become a bit of a tradition of all subsequent updates during the years to try and make it as outlandish and ridiculous as possible but still keep it recognizable as a duck.

If there was one thing that scientist and computer nerds loved, it was running gags; Turo knew, because he was also one of them.

This version in particular was made to look bright yellow with spiky, needle like feathers where his "wings" were supposed to be, and ended up looking more like a cross between a Psyduck and the legendary Zapdos... A little, puffy, dopey and kinda adorable Zapdos.

The Porygon clicked its beak, quickly scanning him up and down.

« Time-displaced object detected. To bring external objects outside of the time machine room, registration of object is required.» it spoke again.

Turo blinked, surprised; it was his first time doing the procedure, and even if he knew that the Pokémon was supposed to say that - it was its job to act as a sort of defensive mechanism for the time machine and anything that got in and out of it, after all - , it still took him a moment to get what it was referring to.

« Oh, this...? Just a little... Souvenir.» he answered, fishing in his lab pocket for the necklace that Sada gave him. It.... Looked even more surreal now in his time, the little leather string with organic fangs and feathers attached. He quietly wondered from what Pokémon they had come from, with that bright red and blue color.

He held it in front of the Porygon, who quickly scanned it.

« Object is not considered a safety or sanitary hazard. Permission granted to bring it outside of time machine room. Welcome back, Dr. Romero Turo. Hope you had a safe trip.» the Pokemon beeped before moving away from the door and going back to the main frame of the time machine, disappearing inside the transparent cylindrical structure that acted as it's control panel.

Turo watched the Porygon go, then stared at the necklace. So that meant he could... Keep it? It would have gathered quite a bit of attention on him... But just depositing it in some box in the laboratory for innocuous random objects brought from the past to be catalogued and eventually donated to some museum, like standard procedure dictated, didn't sit right with him. Sada had given it to him after all, and the girl's excited smile flashed in his mind while he stared at the little pendant.

He ended up tying the leather string around his neck and slipping it under the collar of his bodysuit. It felt a bit strange, having something that was different from the smooth texture of his suit touching his bare skin, but not exactly uncomfortable.

He exited the room still in a bit of a daze; that wasn't exactly surprising even if the trip had been to only fifteen years ago like planned. "Time sickness" was apparently a thing: the human body -or living things in general - didn't react well to passing through time. It had taken quite a bit of studies and experiments to make the trip safe; some lives had tragically been lost in the first test trials: people not landing when and where expected, or coming back with amnesia.

Now, it was mostly just an inconvenience, and some of his more experienced colleagues assured him that he would grew used to it.

No one had traveled that far back though... That reminded him.

He had to write a report about his trip, right?

The corridors of the Time Travel Department Laboratory (or TTDL for short) were currently deserted, which made sense, since it was late night. Turo had been forced to use the time machine in the night time slot, since all other slots during the day had already been reserved for other -and more important - trips than his simple test run. No one wanted the night shift if possible; it gave you the worst time jet-lag ever.

Soft lights blinked on a couple of steps ahead of him while he traversed the corridor and quietly switched off as soon as he had passed, leaving only the quiet hum of machinery.

At the end of the corridor, he thumbed the button to call the elevator. He always found it somewhat amusing how, in a society that was completely converted to holographic controls, haptic feedback or single gestures for... Pretty much anything, some fringe areas of technology had stubbornly remained unchanged for centuries.

They had tried to use touch screens, or holographs, or even voice commands, of course, but people didn't like it.

They would press the screen and then do it again, just to make sure that the command had been acknowledged.

Voice commands had been a disaster with people getting in and out giving conflicting commands.

In this case, a physical button to press was still the best.

At the end of the day, it turned out, people just really liked to mash the shit out of buttons.

After getting out at the ground floor, he quietly walked across the great hall of the university. Something small and quick scurried away at his feet, and Turo absent mindedly side stepped the little Steelccino that were busy cleaning the floor, ignoring the indignant screeching of the chinchilla Pokémon at seeing him leave even just a speck of dust from his boots. One of them tried to jump on his lab coat, swiping at him with his brushy tail - the only part of its body that still looked identical to the Mincinno it had evolved from long ago, chattering angrily. The man had to almost physically push the little critter away, sneering.

« Come on, it's not like I did it on purpose. You expect me to go back millennia and not trek around some dirt? Shoo » Turo complained, exhausted. The Pokémon obviously didn't care, their shiny, red led-like eyes fixing him with a death glare before getting back to work.

They were employed by the university of Mesagoza as natural cleaners at night, which was perfect, as long as you weren't part of the TTDL. His colleagues hated the little critters and the critters hated them right back, in an eternal cycle of mutual annoyance.

He welcomed the sight of the teleporters near the entrance: scanning his ID he stepped into one, a smooth circular platform made of what looked like light purple glass, and recited his home address.

That wouldn't have been the most secure option in broad daylight -you wouldn't want to announce where you lived to everyone after all -, but screw it, he was tired and there was no one around anyway. The platform briefly lit up, almost seemed to hesitate for a second, calculating the closest teleporter to the given address, then zapped him away.

Teleporting had become ubiquitous some couple centuries ago - of course, a simpler version had been in use since much, much earlier, with Psychic Pokémon ferrying people to and from important places since ancient history. Developing a technology that didn't require the constant use of Pokemon and could be accessible to everyone had taken a bit more time, but it was now part of everyday life.

It had, for all intents and purposes, completely eliminated commuting and traffic.

Imagine having to spend multiple hours a day just getting to work! And then getting back home! That sounded exhausting, how did people put up with that in the past?

The teleporter left him a bit away from his apartment complex; obviously only the richest people could afford a personal teleporter that would deposit them literally on their doorstep, but Turo didn't mind walking the little distance he had to. It was still infinitely better than the alternative.

The front door of his apartment unlocked as soon as he got near enough, and with a tired sigh, Turo closed the door. He was home. Between all the preparations for the time jump, setting up the time machine and his studies, he hadn't set foot outside of the laboratory for the past three days. Of those three days, he technically had been "really" gone only for a couple of hours, but... It felt like so much more. His mind was still kind of processing what had happened.

Two hours he had spent simply sitting on that river side, talking with someone that was now less than dust. How did she spend the rest of her life? How long had she even lived?

It wouldn't do him any good to dwell on those thoughts so much; if he wanted to keep working in that field of research, he had to get used to it.

Two blue lights blinked at him from his small living room, accompanied by a low « Gwaaaoohhh » and the quiet clicking of metallic paws on the floor.

Turo smiled, hugging the Miraidon that welcomed him back and stroking it's neck.

« Hey buddy, how are you doing? » he caressed the smooth light grey scales, examining them carefully.

« Is your Hadron Engine still acting up?»

The was a slight pause, then the Miraidon's throat lit up, briefly pulsating with blue energy, an electric buzz filling the room. It had almost managed to form a complete wheel shape before it sneezed, snapping back to its low power form.

It growled sadly and pawed at the floor, looking almost ashamed.

« Don't worry about it, you just need to rest. We'll go riding as soon as you're doing better... And I can get a day off. » Turo added.

Miraidon had been with him since he was a kid, still living with his parents in Medali.

The apartment where he lived was a bit small for him, but the Pokemon could generally come and leave freely, wandering the city; still, in the past few days he hadn't been feeling too well, and had spent them mostly curled up on the sofa. With Turo himself not having exactly stepped outside the laboratory for days (except for the little trip through time), he was looking forward to taking that little road trip. Just cruising through the highway at high speed, wind hitting his face, nothing but a seemingly infinite road in front of him to let Miraidon speed up as much as he wanted. Maybe they could even practice gliding again. That sounded nice. With a last pat on the Pokémon's head, he headed to the bathroom for a shower before going to bed.

---

« So how did your test run go? »

Turo raised his eyes from the screen that floated in front of him, stopped mid sentence in his report, and made a quick "stop" gesture by lifting the index and middle finger of his right hand. The writing program that was tracking his lip movements to write down his report recognized the gesture and dutifully stopped, then started to automatically check spelling and punctuation while waiting for the prompt to start again.

Waiting for an answer in front of him with a mug of coffee in one hand and a bemused smile was Gervaso Ortega, his senior by a year and accomplished time traveler.

Turo hesitated for a moment, then stood up.

« Depends... Theoretically, incredibly well. Technically... I must have messed something up.»

The other man gestured for him to follow him out of the little office he got assigned and into a break room, or as people in the TTDL called it, the "sanity room".

Constantly kept at a comfortable temperature and humidity, the holographic walls continually projected calming images of natural landscapes and relaxing sounds.

« Oh... It's a rainy forest today? Nice, relaxing.» Gervaso commented, sitting down.

Turo almost wanted to point out that it was only relaxing because they weren't actually getting wet, but he wasn't going to complain. A nice forest with some rain was a much better scenario than some.... Alternatives they had had in the past.

« Remember that girl that was researching pirates and forced the room to simulate a creaking ship at sea for "immersion" for three months?» he answered, sitting down in front of him and ordering a coffee of his own. The other man grinned.

« Oh man, Sea Shanty Girl! Wonder what she is doing now... If I never have to listen to "Randy Dandy-Oh" again, it will still be too soon.»

Turo laughed, but his colleague seemed pretty curious about his trip, prompting him again.

He was... Actually a bit nervous about revealing what had happened.

« The trip was fine. No excessive time sickness, no allergic reaction to the pre-jump shots... Weather was fine so I didn't even have to recharge my time-anchor manually...» he hesitated.

« I may have.... Overshot the landing on the time coordinate a bit.»

That made Gervaso, who had been nodding along, pause, intrigued.

« Really? By how much?»

« .... Some 14'000 years?»

There was a slight incredulous pause, then the other man exploded into laughter, hurriedly putting the mug of coffee down on the table.

« Are you serious? The new guy does his first time jump and ends up where no one managed to ever go before? You are either going to become the best time traveler I've ever seen, or the worst

Yeah, that's what he had figured would happen.

He took a sip of coffee, only for Gervaso to almost slap it out of him by patting his shoulder.

« ... I'm going to get grounded, aren't I?»

« Oh, you are so grounded while they figure out how you did it. »

---

He does end up "grounded" in the end, banned from using the time machine for a month. The coordinates he had used on the other hand are still safely associated to his ID; as soon as one month passed, he could, theoretically, travel there again.

His original project had actually been traveling to the future - not too far away. The future direction was much more risky by definition, since you obviously had absolutely no data on where you would end up.

Most time travelers who chose the future wouldn't jump more than a couple of years; tiny incremental steps, and reports on what they knew were kept secret with the highest level of security (except for spoilers about when the new season or movie of a series would come out and how much it sucked, because of course people wanted to know about that way more than possibly horrible news).

And that had always fascinated him terribly; it was pretty much a leap of faith into the unknown.

... Maybe a bit too ambitious for his first project; maybe he could... Travel to the distant past for a bit after all? It was... Really, it was so far away that it was almost as unknown as the future.

The happy smile that Sada had made while they had tried to talk only encouraged his decision.

While he can't time travel, what he can do, man of science that he is, is spend his time doing some research.

He pours over every anthropological book about the Upper Paleolithic he can find, digs up documentaries and even some fiction.

There is.... Frustratingly little. Makes sense since there literally wasn't even written language at that point, so not much got passed down through the ages. The timescale is also something that makes his head hurt on more than one occasion.

« "First evidence of Pokémon domestication like Growlithe and Mareep could have occurred between 15'000 and 10'000 years before common age"... Sure, that is just.... An error margin of 5000 years, no biggie. » he sighs, flicking away the screen he was reading with a swipe of his finger.

It was going to be a long month.

---

Exactly one month after his first jump, he walks back into the time machine room. He slips the time anchor to his wrist, checking that it is attached securely.

Waiting for him are Porygon 568 and a woman wearing medical scrubs and holding a syringe.

« Time anchor ID 9537 ready for departure as soon as medical checks complete. Update destination coordinates?» Porygon 568 speaks up.

« Yes, add... 316800 seconds to the timestamp» it wouldn't do to appear again literally at the same moment he had left.

« Acknowledged.»

The woman quickly approaches him and slips the needle of the syringe into his left shoulder, the clear liquid inside entering his body. Turo grimaces for a second; something else he will have to get used to... Those "shots" as they were called were the only thing protecting his body from getting teared apart in the time machine. It was... A bit unsettling to think about actually. How did they work? No idea, he was no doctor. (… Well he technically was, but not that kind of doctor)

He pulls the sleeve of the bodysuit back up to cover his shoulder, slips back his lab coat, and steps into the time machine.

---

This time he can tell that it worked before even opening his eyes. It's been a month for him, but not even a week has passed here: the same cold air, the leaves getting rustled by the wind, the stream rushing by his side. He start following the river, listening for some tell tale sounds of human activity. Steps, rustling of leaves, some smoke signal for a fire maybe... If Sada had been working by the river last time, she probably lived nearby.

A shape in the water catches his attention: red with a big yellow dorsal fin and whiskers, it takes him a moment to recognize the silhouette of a Magikarp... It's a pretty big one, but that is nothing unusual. Lots of Pokémon were just bigger in ancient times, or one particular individual simply grew a lot more. He notices the Magikarp stop dead in the water and slightly turn in his direction. Turo pays the Pokémon no mind: they are so common even in his time that seeing one is nothing unusual, so he just keeps walking in the shallow water.

That is, until it suddenly charges at him.

He lets out a panicked yelp when the Magikarp is suddenly right by his side, teeth snapping and missing his arm only because he stumbles backwards and falls on his back.

It's the angriest looking Magikarp he's ever seen, and... Teeth? Magikarp don't have teeth! They barely have functioning muscles!

The shock stops him from moving for a couple of seconds; is it some prehistoric form of Magikarp? The one that was supposedly stronger than the current one?

This is way more than a "a bit stronger", this one looked ready to bite his face clean off. Did it even need to evolve into Gyarados?

He tries to get up to his feet, hands slipping on the stones that make up the riverbed, but the creature is much faster than him. It jumps out from the water and he desperately rolls to the side. He can feel the teeth snapping close to his head before the creature flies past him and crashes outside of the water.

And it still doesn't stop.

It's furiously thrashing on its side, kicking up water and gravel until it manages to turn itself right up, and the sight of it is so surreal that he can't help but stare, frozen in place, when everything suddenly clicks in his mind.

It's... It's using Splash.

Is that how the move developed? Is that what it originally was for? To chase prey even on dry land?

« Get down!» Sada's voice suddenly rings out from behind him and he just throws himself to the side, then stares as the woman literally chases the damn thing away with nothing but a spear and... What even was that? It looked like some kind of berry...

Anyway, she just saved his life.

He finally gets up to his feet; the bodysuit he's wearing makes sure that most of his body is still dry, but the same can't be said for his hair, hands, lab coat and-

"Shit, the time-anchor"

With a quick surge of panic he checks the device on his wrist; it should be pretty damn resistant to any kind of damage, even Pokemon moves, and really be much more durable than the person who is wearing it, but he feels pretty justified in his panic when the little device is literally the only thing keeping him tethered to his own time.

It thankfully doesn't even look wet. He notices Sada staring at his wrist and quickly hides his hand in his lab coat pocket, pointedly ignoring her little sad pout. He jumps a bit when she storms up to him, brandishing her spear.

What... What did he do? Did he accidentally end up somewhere he wasn't meant to? Was that Magikarp some kind of holy creature and she's pissed because she had to attack it to save him?

Is he going to end up stabbed in the chest after all?

He doesn't understand, but she just sighs and offers him her hand.

He takes it after a second.

All right... Looks like he has avoided "death by spear" for the moment.

---

He's been sitting on that log for a couple of minutes now; he has tried to thank Sada for saving him, and now the girl has disappeared into the woods again. He nervously looks around, jumping at every sound. He doesn't even have Pokémon with him to protect him: even if he could get the permission to bring Miraidon with him, just pulling out a Poké Ball and using it would be... Incredibly risky. It's considered one of the most pivotal inventions of all of human history, almost at the same level of.... The wheel, or writing. Who knows what the effect of just accidentally showing someone the idea much earlier than supposed to could do to history.

Not to mention that Miraidon would look even more out of place than he does.

His eyes land on something that Sada has left behind, and he recognizes it as the notebook he has given her.

Seeing it covered in marks he scoots closer and picks it up, intrigued.

He flips it open and is left staring at the page, speechless.

He was expecting some random doodles. Maybe stick figures like the ones in cave paintings.

These are notes. A drawing that is unmistakably a map is drawn on the page, with the position of the river, the woods and what must be other peculiar spots all marked with symbols. He flips behind a couple pages, and there's stylized drawings of mushrooms, leaves, plants, even Pokemon, all marked with one or more accompanying symbols.

On one of the first pages, he notices that a corner of the page seems torn up. Another corner has been dipped in water, ink all smeared.

She hasn't just been using it, she's been experimenting with it, trying out different things with this new unfamiliar material.

His heart starts pounding with excitement: this is incredible... she is incredible-

« TURO!»

He jumps like a kid caught stealing cookies from the jar right before dinner.

Sada is back, her leather pouch overflowing with what looks like random roots, plants and berries, and is staring at him with a mix of exasperation and disappointment.

She sets down her bag and mutters something under her breath, then points at the circle of stones she had set up and repeats the word she had taught him before. Was it... Something like ash? Or "fire", or.... Oh. OH.

.... She had asked him to start the fire, didn't she?

He flushes with embarrassment while she keeps possibly berating him -he doesn't blame her, he deserves that-, all while skewering some mushrooms on a couple of sticks.

« S-sorry...»

Well, even if he had understood her, he had no idea how to actually start a fire.

He tries to excuse himself by pointing at the fire and shaking his head. She stops and looks at him quizzically, seemingly pondering something. Probably how someone lacking survival skills like him is still alive.

She sits down near him, and grabs two pieces of wood from a pile near the log they've been using as a makeshift bench. The first one is flat, and looks like a little groove has been carved in it. The second one has an angled head, almost like a plow.

She slots the plow inside the groove and starts moving it up and down quickly, keeping it an an angle, then stops and offers him the two pieces of wood.

Oh. She.... She really wants him to do it himself, doesn't she?

He start mimicking what she had just showed him, and in not even a minute his arms already start protesting about the effort they are definitely not used to performing.

But he keeps it up, pushing through the pain, and... It does seem like it's working, smoke coming out from the friction of the movement. He had seen it done in movies, but never in real life. He honestly didn't think that a spark would come out so quickly, but suddenly there it is, a little pile of charcoal friction burned into the groove with an even tinier spark smoldering inside. Sada is quick to get a dried leaf near it, causing it to start burning, and transfers it into the campfire to start it proper.

Turo is left sitting there, with a huge, dumb grin slowly spreading on his face.

Sada laughs at his expression, but he doesn't mind.

He just made fire!! With his own two hands!! That's AWESOME!

---

He had tried to refuse the food, feeling pretty bad in taking it when he had it so readily available at home, but the girl had just stared at him with a glare that... Well... Honestly had reminded him a bit of his mom when he was little and she was waiting for him to finish eating his vegetables.

There was no saying "no" to a glare like that.

While they are eating some roasted mushrooms and roots, Sada excitedly shows him the notebook. She pinches one blank page between two fingers and looks up at him with those bright, clear eyes.

« What is it?»

Reminded of the first little "game" they had played, it doesn't take him much to guess what she just asked.

« "Paper"»

« "Paper"... » she repeats, looking back down at it. She looks conflicted, and he can almost see the thousand questions that she wants to ask, and doesn't know how. She gathers some leaves that they have been using as kindle and presses one on the page, before looking up at him again. She struggles a moment, silently mouthing a question, then speaks up again.

« Is.... "Paper"... Leaves?»

He looks at her, shocked.

Technically, no, but it's still cellulose, and she got scarily close to the right answer.

How did she even figure that out?

« No, it's... um .. "Wood"» he stammers out after a moment, pointing to the log they've been sitting on.

She stares at him for a moment, then nods, grabs her pen, and jots down another little mark on the page, a lil drawing of a tree.

... She's taking notes.

Many, many years later, Turo would look back at this scene and recognize it as the exact moment he first fell in love with her.
 
Chapter 4: A Matter of Trust
Chapter 4: A Matter of Trust
The more she looked at Turo, the more the man just completely baffled her.

At first she thought that he just hadn't understood her, but... He couldn't even light a fire!

Maybe his tribe didn't use it? If he really came from the south, maybe they didn't need it for warmth, that much was obvious... But what about food? Did they eat everything raw? That didn't seem plausible.... And he hadn't looked unfamiliar with cooked food.

It was almost like... He had been born in the body of an adult and had none of the skill and experience that came with it. Which was impossible, unless... he had lived a very secluded life until now, someone else doing everything for him...

She had one theory about what he was, that could explain at least some of his... More strange qualities. And no, it was not "he's a spirit".

She had no way to confirm it though, not yet. She first needed to be able to talk with him better.

So the strange writing material was called paper! And it wasn't leaves, but wood... Somehow. She examined the paper with this new information, trying to think of a way to ask Turo how it was made. Wood could be pretty flexible, so maybe by cutting it in really thin sheets...? But then how did it become so soft...? How did they make every piece so perfectly even?

So many questions, she had no idea where to start.

But maybe... She could try and confirm where he was from.

She flips the "paper" back to the map of the area she's been drawing these last day and points first to Turo.

« You» she then draws an imaginary circle around the page, then offers the pen to the man.

« Where... Did you come from...?» she asks, pointing at various spots on the map.

He stares at the page for a couple seconds, leaving her to wonder if he got what she was trying to say. But more than perplexed, he looks... Conflicted.

Does he not want to tell her?

Maybe he doesn't even know?

He slowly takes the writing stick from her hand and presses it, staring at the page. She notices that he holds it differently than her, daintily propped between two fingers, and then he hesitantly, slowly, draws a little "X" shape at the bottom right of the page.

Sada tries to mask her enthusiasm. He is from the south!

« I knew it!» she whispers, ignoring his confused blink. All right, next question... She gestures for the writing stick again, and on a blank page, draws three simple human shapes. Sada circles one and points at Turo.

« You» she then mimics walking with two fingers like he had done a couple of days ago.

« Alone? Or with people? "People"» she repeats, drawing a circle around all the stick figures together and hoping it was understandable. Learning words from stuff you could physically point at was easy. Most abstract concepts, less so, but they could try using drawings as symbols to represent them. As long as they were understandable...

At her side, she hears Turo shuffle uncomfortably for a moment, clothes crinkling slightly, before pointing to the single circled figure.

She looks up at him again - and that impossibly neatly trimmed beard looks even more weird up close, unnatural -, but he interrupts her before she can voice her next question.

« "Is"... You... "Alone"?» he stammers a bit, his accent all wrong and weird and... Outsider-ish. But the fact that he is trying at all and that he actually picked up words that she's been using is strangely... Endearing. She's not the only one that has some questions, it seems.

« No. My people are, umm... Here.» she draws another "X" similar to his in another corner of the map, north east to their current position. Sada waits a couple seconds, observing his reaction. He looks... Pensive.

« Do you want to...?» no, too complicated.

« You... Come... With me?» she asks after a moment, pointing first in his direction, then to the little stick figures and finally on the position of her settlement on the map.

It takes a couple of seconds, but then his eyes go wide and he starts vehemently shaking his head, looking suddenly nervous.

« Oh no, absolutely not-» he mumbles.

Sada frowns a bit.

... She doesn't understand. Surely staying with a group of strangers is still safer than living alone? Maybe he misunderstood her?

His reaction is making her theory a lot more likely though.

« All right... » disappointed, she goes back to the first sheets of paper, and starts pointing out the various plants and mushrooms, just trying to get out as much vocabulary that could be useful as possible. It's slow going, but when they arrive to the sketches she has made of various creatures, he seems to suddenly perk up. He gestures for the writing stick and points to the first sketch, one of the big birds of prey with grey and red feathers... Not like her drawing can show it, since she had access only to one color.

« It's a Fire Wing...» they were dangerous while they were hunting or if you happened to get near their nests, but she liked to look out for their fallen feathers; they were soft and incredibly warm, great to wear during the colder season by sewing them inside clothes, or as accessories. Turo nods, just the hint of a smile on his lips.

« "Talonflame"»

Is that what it was called in his language...?

Then, to her surprise, he starts sketching a Fire Wing of his own alongside hers, with a great amount of details.

A couple of strokes to draw the head, the curved beak with a sharp point and even sharper eyes... he is good at it, the picture so similar to the real thing it's like one of the creatures had been quietly sitting between them all this time, posing for reference.

But of course, there isn't one; he must be going from memory, not unlike her when she takes notes after some sightings.

But to be able to draw it so perfectly... He must have seen so many of them! And from really close, no less...

Sada finds herself almost transfixed by the smooth movements of his hand while it flits along the page, expertly filling in the drawing. The way he moves, even how he was holding the writing stick, not a single blemish on his fingers ... It's obvious he is much more used to doing this than... Lighting a fire, or holding a weapon, or ... really any kind of manual activity.

Someone else must have done them for him all this time before now, giving him the opportunity to get that good at something not immediately useful for survival like drawing.

And there is only one role she can think of that would allow for that kind of privilege, if it was even possible.

Turo finishes his drawing, absentmindedly flipping the writing stick between two fingers before giving it back to her, then starts listing off the various body parts in his language. They are not immediately useful as words between them (how many times is something like "talon" going to come up in a conversation?), but she still listens attentively. They are useful to her, and he seems... Weirdly knowledgeable about these creatures.

« Fire Wings umm... "Move"... No...» he lifts his arms and moves them a couple of times up and down, and she has to stop herself from giggling: the white cape loudly flapping along makes him look ridiculous.

« Fly...?» she offers, only half successful in stopping a laugh from escaping her.

He blushes a bit -which is weirdly adorable - and keeps talking.

« Y-yes... they "Fly" with... Fire... Umm...» there's obviously something else he wants to add, but can't explain. He sighs and palms his face.

« Of course they do, dumbass... How do I explain "fireproof"...?» he mutters to himself, lowering his hand to rub at his chin.

Sada stares at him for a moment, pointedly avoiding her eyes after noticing that she had been gazing at him just a bit too hard.

« "Dumbass"...?» she repeats, picking out one of the words from his muttering at random, and only because it sounded funny.

Turo freezes, a flash of horror on his face that quickly gets replaced by a stuttering, incredulous laugh that he tries and fails to contain.

« Wha...? No! Nononono, don'tusethatword, of all the things to pick up» he manages to get out, shaking his head but still being mostly incomprehensible.

Sada just stares at him, perplexed - and just a touch amused at his reaction -

« Turo, what is "dumbass"?»

His laugh only gets louder, and he can't do much except keep shaking his head, tears in his eyes.

It takes him a good couple of minutes to calm down.

... Now she really wants to know what that word means.

---

After a couple more hours, when they've exhausted speaking (or as close as they could get to speaking) about every creature in her paper sheets - or her "notebook", as Turo had called it-, the man stands up and Sada knows, before he even looks to the south, that he is going to leave.

She frowns, trying to think of a way to get him to stay; knowing him alone, in the dark, in a place unfamiliar to him... It worries her. She can't help but picture another Brutal Fang jumping out of the water to drag him away, or another hundred ways he could end up dead.

That he isn't is still baffling.

Maybe he knows of some special way to avoid creatures attacking him...? Not that it worked before.

Turo seems to hesitate for a moment, then gestures for the notebook.

She gives it to him, and he flips it to the first blank page. He draws a circle with some lines coming out of it.

« Sun»

All right...? He already told her how to say it in his language though...

He looks up and searches the sky for a moment before quickly drawing another half circle.

« Moon»

He circles both of them together, then looks up at her for a long moment.

« "Day"»

Sada looks at the drawing; a sun and a moon together form... What?

He thinks for a moment, then draws another line, this time with only half of a sun over it. An arrow pointing away from it, and a moon after that... Oh! She almost jumps a little when it hits her.

He's drawing day and night! She nods enthusiastically and he smiles, then proceeds to draw another couple of sun and moon symbols, each with arrows leading from one to the next.

« I'll come.... Here... in "three days".» he enunciates slowly circling the last couple of symbols, before giving her the notebook.

It's a sequence of days and nights... He's telling her when they can see each other again. If the first symbol is today, and there is another after that, and a couple more after than one...

He starts to slowly back away, cautiously, and Sada looks back down to the notebook, conflicted. A part of her really wants to tail him, to discover where he's going. What he is obviously hiding from her. Why he looks so reluctant at the idea of meeting other people.

But... He did just promise to come see her again.

She doesn't want to break that trust right away.

« Three days.» she nods, and to give him proof of her good intentions, sits back down on the log.

He looks a bit more relieved at that, and turns around quickening his pace.

She looks at him until he completely disappears from view amidst the trees, then closes her eyes and holds still, straining her ears.

His footsteps are still audible for the time it takes her heart to beat thirty times- then they're gone.

---

« So you've met with that strange man again? » Chalo asked, her dark raven hair clinking as the little wooden beads that decorated it rattled against each other.

« Yes, I've actually got a theory about him now.» Sada answers, carefully following the other woman along the trail they've been walking along for a couple of hours.

She had gone back to the settlement after Turo had left: no reason to spend those three days just lazing around.

The trail was just the faintest line visible among the grassy field that extended all around them. The grass grew pretty high, tall enough to hide both a person walking upright, or most creatures. That made this area relatively dangerous: creatures couldn't see you coming, but you also had no idea of what could suddenly jump out at you. Unless they left traces, like the one they were following. Grass flattened by a great number of creatures stepping on it, walking in an orderly line. A herd, and Sada was pretty sure she knew what kind of herd it was. That was the whole reason that Chalo had dragged her along after all: she was the only other one in their group both curious and crazy enough to go along with her ideas.

« You do? Let's hear it. I still think that your mother is right and he is a spirit... But not an ancestor. A creature spirit, the ones that come out at night and can disappear in smoke.»

Sada lets out a sigh, crouching briefly to examine a patch of grass that looked like it had been burned.

« He is not a creature. First of all, he talks. »

« Yeah, but not our language, right? What if it's a creature using you to learn how to speak?»

« ... That's way more ridiculous than him simply being an outsider.» Sada rolls her eyes, and Chalo simply shrugs.

« ... But it's more interesting. Anyway, your theory? » she asks again, cautiously parting the grass growing on both sides of the trail to check their surroundings.

Sada follows her a couple of steps behind, swiftly stepping on Chalo's footprints to reduce noise to a minimum.

« He's the shaman of his tribe. The lore-keeper... He knows so much stuff about creatures, and can draw one perfectly! He looks like he has barely travelled before now; maybe he ... Really just didn't, because his role in the group has always been to create medicine, or... Teach the children about stuff, not hunt or explore.»

Chalo hums briefly, not convinced.

« Shamans get their role when they are are old, though. And Narjik still knows how to use a spear, not like this Terg guy-»

« Turo. And maybe in their tribe it's different, and it gets appointed at birth. » she explains enthusiastically.

« It would also explain his weird clothes. They're not for traveling, they are his shaman clothes. »

« All right... » Chalo stops and turns around suddenly, forcing the girl to stop walking.

« If he's so important for his tribe... What's he doing here? Alone?» she asks in a triumphant tone, but Sada just crosses her arms over her chest. What, did she think she hadn't thought of that?

« I've asked. He didn't look happy at the idea of meeting other people. I think he's been... Driven out. Forced to get away from them.»

Chalo goes from looking smug to slightly worried.

« So you think he's some... Outcast? Doesn't that mean he did something bad if they banished him?»

Yeah, that... That was the part of her theory she couldn't quite explain. You had to do something pretty awful to get thrown out of your tribe and left to die in the wilderness. At least, that's what she had been told; it's not like it had ever happened in her lifetime.

Sada shakes her head.

« I'm sure there's another explanation. He... Does not look like the kind of person that could hurt someone else. He was shaking completely terrified when I first approached, didn't even try to grab my spear. » she just can't reconcile the image of the weird awkward man that blushed while fumbling for his words with that of someone that had... Killed a fellow tribesmen, or something even worse.

There was just no way.

« Yeah, the explanation is "He's a spirit creature", just admit it!»

She laughs at Chalo's eagerness to see her theory get proven true.

« You would love if he was, didn't you? Like in that old story... »

Their little discussion gets interrupted when they arrive at their destination. The trail opens up in a little clearing, where the herd of creatures they've been following is hanging around, sleeping or grazing by nipping at the grass.

Their fur is blue, but most of the body is covered by white, soft wool. Occasionally, two of the creatures would accidentally brush on each other, sending little sparks flying with a sound similar to a crackling fire, but much sharper. In the whole herd, just two creatures were different, and obviously the leaders of the group, being slightly bigger, with pink fur and strangely less wool on their bodies.

Probably a male and his bond mate.

Watching how the creatures changed while growing up had always fascinated Sada terribly. Why didn't humans change like that? It wasn't fair.

« Which one were you thinking about?» she asks in a whisper while scanning the herd with her eyes. Chalo quietly points at one of the smallest creatures, close to the edge of the clearing.

« I've kept an eye on them. They're not aggressive, they prefer to flee rather than fight. And this one's even calmer than the rest. He will be perfect. »

Sada nods approvingly, then rummages in her pouch.

« You saw them eat the pink berries, right?»

« Yeah »

They creep closer to the creature by skirting around the meadow, keeping hidden in the tall grass.

Sada throws one berry near the... What even is it's name?

« What do you call them?» she whispers, observing it trot near the berry and start sniffing it.

« Is that important right now? I haven't decided!» Chalo hisses back, then holds her breath, staring at the creature with anticipation.

It starts to eat the berry, and Sada throws another one to goad it into coming a bit closer.

Well it's important for her, how is she supposed to take notes about them otherwise?

They look pretty cute, but she's not sure about what they can do... Their target has just started munching on the second berry. It's so close now that she could hold a hand out and pet it, and really doesn't look like it cares much about them.

Now the tricky part; she winces a moment, hoping for the best and that Chalo had gotten the right idea about these creatures.

She pulls another object out of the bag, a bright red root firmly wrapped in leaves, and after making sure that it's tightly balled up, throws it in the middle of the clearing. It makes a loud popping sound, scaring - and thankfully not enraging - the rest of the herd into taking off running.

The only one left is the smaller creature that is still eating his berry, and is only now placidly turning around to check out what the noise was.

It seems to realize it's been left on its own, and lets out a "meeeh".

Chalo practically shoves another berry under it's mouth to distract it.

« Heeeere, you want the tasty berry? Yes? Sure you do» she waves the fruit around taking a couple of steps backwards... And the creature seems to think about it for a moment. It looks back to where it's herd was. Then to the berry in the girl's hand.

And actually starts to follow her, trotting along.

« Holy spirits, it worked!» Chalo grins and hugs her, and Sada can't help but get excited herself.

This... This is huge. If they can get it back to the settlement, they can use it's wool without having to scrounge up little pieces by what they found laying around, or by actively hunting them.

If they could get another of the opposite sex, maybe they could even start an herd of their own!

There's just one last thing to decide.

« ... What do we call it?»

---

In the end, they name the creatures Spark Tail, after noticing its tail lighting up. Well, Chalo actually wanted to call them "Fluffyhead", but Sada had refused.

« You can call this one Fluffyhead, but I'm not going to refer to this things with such a silly name»

« But look at how fluffy it is! And why? Are you afraid Terg will laugh at you? He won't even know what it means.»

« It's Turo, and.... That's not it.» she grumbles, watching the Spark Tail chew on some grass right outside her tent.

It's just that she wanted it to sound... Proper. She keeps staring at the creature that, admittedly, was pretty fluffy - just not enough to deserve naming it after that singular characteristic. How silly would that be?

As long as it had food, it really didn't seem to mind being apart from his herd, or being surrounded by humans. They hadn't even needed to build some enclosure for him, just made sure to keep it away from furs and other things that could catch fire brushing against the sparks that came out of his wool.

What a simple, peaceful life it was leading.

The kids already loved it, and Narjik was trying to figure out a way to trim it's wool without getting hurt. She would love to help with it -it was something new to do, a new problem to solve-, but she had to get going if she wanted to reach the meeting point with Turo in time.

---

She arrives at the camp at sunset, and to her surprise, finds it already set up. The fire is crackling, not strongly admittedly, but there is a certain skill in feeding a fire and keeping it going that the man obviously seemed to lack, so the fact that he managed to get it started at all after apparently having it done only once before was impressive. Turo himself is sitting cross-legged near the fire in his usual clothes, a second notebook and writing stick of his own propped up on his knee, intent on drawing or writing something on the page.

Something looks off about him(or... More than usual), and it takes her a moment to consciously realize what it is.

It's only been three days. His facial hair should not be that long.

She blinks, trying to decide if it's just her mind playing tricks on her and she's misremembering how long it was tree days ago, or if it's just another weird thing to add to the growing list of strange things about Turo.

Probably the latter, she decides with an almost resigned shrug.

Turo looks up at her approach, just a twinge of fear crossing his expression before he relaxes, recognizing her. He raises his free hand and waves it in midair.

« "Hi" »

Sada timidly repeats the gesture and word, not quite sure what to make of it. A greeting? Or some kind of ritual?

Maybe a way to show that he was unarmed, like during their first meeting?

It seems to be the right thing to do in any case, because he smiles and gets up, closing his notebook and slipping it into his robes before she can so much as catch a glimpse of it - to her disappointment, she kind of wanted to know what he was drawing.

« You... walk... With me?» he mimes the by now usual gesture, surprising her again.

Walk? Right now with the sun setting?

Sada nods and stops just a moment to better tie the spear slung over her back, then grabs a piece of wood from the fire to use as a torch. She glances at him while they walk away from the camp; he's got both hands hidden in his mantle, head moving left and right while he seems to be scanning the trees looking for something.

« What...?» she starts to ask, and he turns back to look at her with a small smile.

« Fire Wing feathers. »

It takes a moment to recognize what "feathers" meant, before she remembers his portrait of the creature. Why is he so interested in them now? Unless...

« Are you.... Cold?» she mimes some shivering, and after a moment of hesitation, he quietly nods, looking a bit frustrated.

Sada grimaces, mentally berating herself. Of course he must be cold, not being used to living in this area. She starts to actively look for the feathers, while the obvious question of "how didn't he freeze to death the night before our meeting " keeps nagging at her.

Maybe he had something else from a creature with the power of fire with him these days, and it has now lost it's effect. She shuffles a bit closer to him, raising the torch, and he gives her a little smile noticing the gesture.

They find some feathers, but they are obviously not the ones they are looking for: much bigger, mostly white with a blue purple base. It's not the first feathers of that kind that she sees around here, but she still hasn't been able to spot the creature they belong to.

Turo also seems intrigued by them, getting down on one knee to pick one up. His free hand goes to his neck, where his strangely smooth purple clothes start.

They seem to cling so tightly to Turo's body that, when he hooks one finger around the fabric and pulls it down slightly, it almost looks like he's pulling away a weird layer of purple skin.

It looks creepy enough to distract her for a moment from what he is actually doing, namely pulling out an object hanging from his neck that was obviously hidden under his clothes.

Sada lets out a little gasp and points at it.

« My necklace!»

He nods, looking a bit embarrassed, then holds up the necklace still looped around his neck in one hand and the feather in the other. Some of the smaller feathers used in the necklace have the exact same shade of blue.

Sada gets a bit closer, keeping the torch at arm's length.

They could be from the same creature... And as far as she can remember, there are no flying creatures around with bright blue feathers.

« What is it?» Turo asks, probably his way of asking what creature it came from.

Sada shakes her head.

« I don't know.»

He looks disappointed, and slips the feather he has found in his mantle, and the necklace back under his clothes.

They keep looking for a while, but the sun having set completely in the meantime forces them to stop. Wandering around in the dark is way too dangerous; the torch is now their only source of light, complete darkness pressing against them all around otherwise.

Actually, not really the only source: Turo's purple clothes seem to glow slightly in the dark.

She stares at them for a second while he notices and ties his mantle closed, slightly embarrassed. Those have to be the most useless and backwards clothes she's ever seen.

Noticing that Turo seems to glance around nervously, she grabs his hand and guides him by walking ahead.

Or at least tries to, because his hand almost seems to squirm away from the contact, and then he suddenly stops. She turns around, only to find him with his head held high, eyes fixed to the night sky.

And an expression of almost child-like wonder on his face.

She raises her eyes to the sky as well. The moon has almost completely disappeared that night, leaving only the myriad tiny lights in the sky to shine. She's always wondered what they are; some are bigger, some smaller, some look like they are twinkling, like really small distant fires, high up in the sky.

Who's lighting those fires? Some creature, flying up in the sky at night? Maybe other people, living really, really far away?

Turo is looking at the sky like someone who is seeing it for the first time in his life; he resumes walking, slowly, but keeps glancing up, and barely avoids stumbling to the ground a couple of times, smiling all the while.

It's both adorable and heartbreaking at the same time; where they... really keeping him secluded somewhere his whole life?

Maybe he wasn't banished from his tribe. Maybe he escaped.

Maybe he's terrified of meeting other people because he's afraid of getting locked up again.

Her theory only sounds more plausible when they get back to the camp, and she insists on giving him some of her pelts to sleep in.

He looks incredibly nervous as they settle down on opposites sides of the fire.

She can hear him turn around, unable to sleep, long into the night, until she herself finally falls asleep.

He's gone come morning, but there is a piece of paper torn from his notebook left near her when she wakes up, with two day and night symbols drawn on it.
 
Chapter 5: Fast & FuTurious
Chapter 5: Fast & FuTurious



Report on Time travel jump n. 2 of Dr. Romero Turo, time-anchor ID 9537.


Coordinates of successful jump: 48°51′12″ N, 2°20′55″ E (current time position: Lumiose City)


Weather conditions: Clear, temperatures recorded by suit sensors average 15°C. Measurements coherent with estimated data about Last Glacial Period. Body suit encountered no difficulties in maintaining body temperature to comfortable levels.


Number of hours spent time-displaced: 5 hours and 12 minutes


Shortly after landing, encountered a Pokémon that seems to be an ancestor of the common modern Magikarp. The Pokémon, temporarily dubbed "Proto-Magikarp", showed a predatory instinct and aggressiveness completely absent in its modern counterpart. It's anatomy also showed a clear adaptation to hunting prey; strong musculature for swimming even against the current and developed teeth for ripping flesh, more similar in size and form to the ones seen in Pokemon like Basculin or Carvanha (possible common ancestor?).

Most interesting was it's behaviour after accidentally beaching itself in an attempt to assault me. It thrashed violently to right itself until it could attack again, in a movement extremely similar to the currently useless move "Splash" that Magikarp still uses today. I believe this to be the original use of the technique, and that possibly most Pokémon that are -or were- using the move known as Splash could actually have originally developed different uses for it, until changes in physiology and environment changed the move into its current iteration.

Made contact again with a native"


And there the report stopped, the cursor blinking on the monitor patiently waiting for Turo to continue. And it would have to wait quite a bit more, because the screen had been sitting untouched for the best part of two hours now, his owner seemingly much more interested in slowly spinning the leather chair (fake leather, of course. Were would you even get true leather these days?) he was currently slouched into round and round, both arms behind his head, staring at the ceiling of his office. Contrary to the fancy ceiling of the sanity room, this one didn't have much in terms of decoration - just the standard "regulate the artificial lights automatically to simulate sunlight".

At the moment, the light was dark orange, reflecting the sunset that was currently visible in real time right outside the window. Just a couple minutes more, and the last rays of sunlight would completely disappear behind the tall buildings of Mesagoza. In ancient times, the city had been built similar to an old fortress, with the Pokémon Academy built on the top of a hill towering over every other building, looking down on the city. Nowadays, the Pokemon Academy (and the University for more modern studies that had been built near it a couple centuries ago) was neither at the highest point nor the tallest building in the city anymore.

He felt conflicted about reporting his meetings with Sada. On one hand, he kind of had to do it; on the other, having to write about it in such cold and technical terms, like it was nothing more than an experiment to report on, felt.... Wrong.

There was also the issue of other people taking interest in his project; now that he had proven that it was possible, nothing was stopping someone else going in the exact same time and place. It was extremely improbable; there was a sort of "code of honor" between researchers of the TTLD: no interfering with other people's project, unless you were actively collaborating in a joint activity.

The possibility was there though, and the idea of an entourage of scientists arriving near Sada's people to study them like in some safari, even if carefully from afar while staying hidden instead of making active contact, was... It made him feel guilty.

He shouldn't have felt that way:

Studying and observing history was what they did, after all. That was the whole point of their job.

They travelled to the past as silent observers to confirm historical moments, to witness them first hand with a neutral perspective. Sometimes it was to confirm scientific theories, or to preserve artifacts that would have been lost to time otherwise. They did it to make sure not to repeat the mistakes of the past, and cautiously monitored the future to better prepare for it in the present.

It was right there in their motto, written in clear letters at the entrance of the Time Travel Laboratory Department, and again right on the time machine, something to be reminded of every time you stepped into it.

Ex tempore, scientia.

Ex scientia, sapientia.


"From time, knowledge. From knowledge, wisdom"

The irony of using a long dead language to write it in hadn't been lost on him. Whoever had come up with that had to have a nice sense of humour.

So he shouldn't feel guilty in reporting all that had happened... But a part of him still did.

Turo stopped the chair so that it was facing the screen again. With a sigh, he gestured to the screen to resume writing and continued to silently dictate his report, mouthing the words while opening another screen on his left with a flick of his finger to check some data his suit had recorded.

Info about his vitals, measurements about the environment gathered automatically while regulating said vitals... Audio transcripts of the entire conversation.

He slipped an earpiece in and started to play the audio back from the very beginning.

He had to be as accurate as possible.

---

Miraidon leaped excitedly out of the door, the pixelated compound pupils cycling through an array of colours outside of the usual cyan.

« Gyaa-»

« I know, I know, just let me... Lock the door...» Turo had barely finished scanning his ID through the door when the Pokémon, growing impatient, started to gently headbutt his shoulder, nipping at his arm.

Turo laughed softly and let himself be pushed along, exiting their apartment complex and walking into the streets of the megalopolis. It was a nice Saturday morning and the street buzzed with activity;his wasn't the only Miraidon present, the dragon Pokémon zipping around roads that, with traffic by now virtually nonexistent for short distances, had been adapted to better use for them and other, still popular vehicles like Rotom bikes.

A bunch of kids was sitting on benches in a small plaza, excitedly talking about the latest e-sport tournament in some vr game or other.

He dismissed an ad that started playing on the wall-sized display of a building as soon as he got near, more focused on the news snippets that were playing on the screen next to it.

Celebrity gossip. The colony on Mars was still stuck in the middle of a global dust storm. Stark mountain in Sinnoh had been erupting for five days straight. The Hassel Art Gallery was holding an art exhibition with pieces from the 24rd century (recovered by the TTLD, by the way).

A comet that would pass near Earth was closely being monitored, with some people swearing that it was going to be Jirachi's Millennium Comet (spoiler alert: it wasn't, it's orbit was completely mapped and it came near Earth every 300 years or so. That didn't stop people from romanticism about it).

He turned to Miraidon while finishing to put on a pair of gloves; his riding clothes were slightly different from his usual body suit, more similar to mountain biking gear. Still sleek and pretty form fitting with a dark purple color(he just... Liked the color), it sported elbow and knee pads in woven borophene to absorb impacts, with the same sturdy but flexible material covering his chest and shoulders, and shoes with magnetic soles to better cling to Miraidon's back while riding. The last piece of equipment was a full face helmet in a solid black color.

« Gyaaaa-»

Turo could almost feel the dragon next to him raring to go, a static charge building up on his scales while it crouched low on all fours to let him mount on his back.

He patted the Pokémon's neck while jumping on with practiced ease, gripping the two spikes that grew from his front legs and acted as natural handlebars.

« All right, let's go!»

The Pokémon let out a piercing shriek and jumped forward, leaping a couple of times on all four legs, still in low power mode, before releasing the electricity it had been storing mid leap to generate two bright energy rings from its throat and tail, changing smoothly into his drive mode before it even touched the ground again.

Turo lowered himself on the Pokémon's back while it sped up along the road, briefly racing with another Miraidon -the rider waving at them- before doing a sharp turn to get on the main road. There the dragon accellerated again, his rings glowing brightly while more electricity and power coursed through them, a roar growing increasingly louder not from the Pokémon's throat but from the jet-like vents from his legs.

Turo loved that feeling; the perfectly aerodynamic shape making him feel every air current, the electricity crackling on his skin and passing over him harmlessly, the fact that he could feel the dragon's power pushing him faster and faster... there was no other Pokémon that made riding it feel as viscerally satisfying as his Miraidon did.

A Rotom bike would never feel this good.

It was something in their very DNA, humans and Miraidon's ancestors Cyclizar had developed an almost symbiotic relationship since ancient times. It just felt right for the both of them, and the fact that they had been together since he was little more than a toddler and the Pokémon barely out of the egg had only made their bond even deeper. His mother always joked that Turo had almost learned to ride Miraidon before learning to walk, and certainly before learning to crawl.

He tapped the Pokémon's right spike and gently pressed his left leg against the Pokémon's side, Miraidon reading his body language and turning to the right into another road, towards the city's southern gate... Which was actually a bit of a misnomer. It was more correct to say that it was the city's historical southern gate and border.... By now, "Mesagoza" had expanded to become a megalopolis that included Los Platos and another half a dozen cities in South Paldea, almost reaching Cabo Poco on the coast.

Turo waited until they were officially out of the city's center before speaking to the Pokemon again. Technically, what he wanted to do wasn't exactly allowed. He needed a lot of open space and a nice, long road just to be safe.

« C'mon buddy, I know you can go much faster!»

Miraidon snorted and shook his head, turning it's head enough to glare at him with just one eye, the pupil flickering on and off in annoyance.

« Gyaa...»

Turo just grinned, the helmet masking his expression while he kept teasing the dragon. That was the reaction he was expecting, really. Mostly because it was kinda risky to do. For him, not for Miraidon. But it was also going to be awesome if it worked.

« Don't tell me you're scared to try that

« Gwaooooh!»

That seemed to do it, the Pokémon roaring indignantly before slowing down slightly, energy rings shrinking in size.

Turo braced himself, leaning completely forward on the dragon's back, his helmet almost touching the creature's smooth neck.

The crackling of electricity kept rising all around him, Miraidon concentrating on revving up his Hadron Engine to the fullest before rearing up on his hind legs with a screeching, metallic roar. Yellow and purple-blue energy surged through the dragon's throat, tail and antennae while it started to push itself off the ground on pure electromagnetic power alone, first just levitating and then propelling itself higher and higher.

Turo laughed while the road they had been following grew smaller and smaller, Miraidon soaring through the sky in his ultimate form at exhilarating speed. The wind was so strong that it kept him pushed flat on the dragon's back, and made it impossible to hear any sound apart from its howl. To communicate with the dragon, he would have to rely on touch alone, or simply trust it's judgement.

They passed Los Platos in the span of fifteen minutes instead of the hour of driving it would have taken them travelling along the highway and kept going south, flying over other districts and towns. He could already see the ocean, high up as they were, the water glittering under the sun and a welcome change of scenery from the constant grey, pure white and bright artificial lights of the city.

He pressed both legs against Miraidon's sides and leaned slightly to the left, noticing something on the coast that had caught his attention. The dragon growled in acknowledgement and started to tip forward towards the ground, dropping both altitude and speed while it slowly circled around the spot he had pointed to. Turo slowly straightened his back when the lower speed allowed it, sitting upright on the Pokémon's back and observing the building that laid under them, coming closer and closer.

It looked like an old lighthouse, the very top having broken off and fallen to the ground long ago, crashing through the roof of what looked like a small house built right next to it. And by old, he meant old, the place still looking like it had been built with classic bricks and mortar.

That had to make it at least a thousand years old, if not much more.

He directed Miraidon to land on the elevated platform that was still standing, then cautiously dismounted the dragon, almost expecting the entire building to crumble under his feet at the slightest touch. It didn't.

He took off his helmet and turned toward the edge of the platform, where a railing had probably allowed people to enjoy the view without risking falling off in the past, but had completely rusted away in the meantime. Being so close to the sea probably had not helped.

The ladder (not an elevator? Shit that made it even older than he first thought) that had allowed the caretakers or visitors to climb up had met a similar fate, leaving nothing but a gaping hole and a long drop to the ground.

He stared at the sea for a while; it was strange to think that the ocean was probably the only part of the current view that he could enjoy similarly to people that had stood here in the past, the only scenery that hadn't changed at all, and hopefully never would.

It was... strangely comforting.

« Let's keep going, I want to reach Artazon by noon » he declared after another couple minutes, turning back towards Miraidon. The dragon just stared at him, then hissed softly and briefly flicked his antennae, spreading his gliding membrane open.

The message was pretty clear: no flying in ultimate mode this time.

Turo just rolled his eyes, climbing back on the Pokémon's back.

« Yeah, yeah... All right mom, we'll do it the boring and careful way...»

There was another hiss by the lizard dragon and the gliding membrane opened up again before he was finished putting on his helmet, hitting him square on the nose.

---

« Your nose looks pretty red, is it alright?»

« Shut up, it's fine.»

The sanity room today was a beautiful recreation of the first floor of the Sprout Tower of Violet city. An hologram in the center of the room simulated the famous central pillar of the building, swaying in place, while the sound of creaking floorboards, soft chants and prayers from the monks (personally recorded by current director and head researcher of the TTDL) filled the room. Someone had gone the extra mile and even lighted some incense. Bellsprouts were sadly missing though. It was the kind of atmosphere that made everyone present subconsciously talk in whispers, at least until Ortega snickered while stealing a chair from the next table and sitting down near him.

« Was it something in the Paleolithic era? »

Turo glared at his colleague, then sniffled. His nose still hurt.

« No... Why would it be? Isn't that what the pre time-jump shots are for? Avoiding getting killed by millennia old bacteria and a dozen other things? » he answered. Ortega just shrugged.

« I don't know. Maybe you had gotten punched in the face by some caveman.»

« No, nothing like that.» he quickly tried to change the subject, not wanting to admit to getting whacked in the face.

« How is your project going? What was it again...?»

Ortega was a bit of a weird case in the department, always seeming to swap between one project or another instead of focusing on one thing at a time; Turo could never quite remember what the guy was working on at the moment.

« "Confirming historical moments that drastically changed human society in the last couple centuries"» Ortega recited.

« Which is just a fancy way of saying "I dick around dressed in historically accurate clothes"» another voice piped up from the table where Ortega had just stolen furniture from. A woman with ferociously red hair sat down opposite from Turo, offering a handshake.

« Melany Vega, pleased to meet you»

He took it, trying not to smile at Ortega looking annoyed.

« Hey, dressing for the part is important! Especially in most recent centuries. In ancient times, you can land anywhere and just say "Ooooh, me come from far away land!" and people will believe you because it's not like they knew better. That doesn't fly in modern times. People will know something's up if you show up in impossible clothes. Not to mention getting caught on camera. And the internet. »

« W-wait... Wouldn't it still be better to at least try and... Look like you fit in? Should I...? » Turo asked, eyes widening.

Both fellow time travellers looked at him for a moment.

« You're "Paleolithic era" guy, right? » Vega asked.

... Is that what people were calling him?

« Yours is a special case. You go so far back that it doesn't matter. Even if someone noticed your weird clothes, at most it would become a bit of a strange story and then get lost to time... Unless you did something so memorable that it becomes a legend passed down for all of human history, but in that case, we would have bigger problems on our hands.

And we wouldn't even know where to start in making replicas of clothes that pass as historically accurate for you, because we know so little about it. Do it wrong, and it's even worse. » Vega answered after a moment. Ortega nodded.

« Yeah, best you could do for historical accuracy was showing up naked... And I don't recommend that.»

« ... You sound like you speak from experience.» Turo muttered after a moment.

Ortega just smiled, refusing to elaborate.

Turo could only sigh at his senior, then turned back towards the redhead.

« If I may ask, what are you working on...?»

« "Gathering photographic evidence of legendary Pokemon's sightings in different eras"»

Turo's mouth hanged open for a moment.

« You chase legendaries? »

Arceus, that must have looked badass on your resume.

Vega nods.

« It's way less epic than what it sounds like. 90% of "legendary Pokémon" sightings in history are people that had one too many drinks and mistook a Pangoro for an Urshifu or something stupid like that. » she explains.

« You did get that really cool picture of the battle between Groudon and Kyogre in Sootopolis City though. The one from uuuuh... 2005 was it?» Ortega points out.

« Those two are always going at it, it's nothing special! My grandma's got a picture from their last battle some 50 years ago that looks basically the same! » Vega rants, looking annoyed.

« The only way you can tell the picture is genuinely from 2005 it's because Steven Stone and those two eco terrorist idiots are chillin' in the background!»

The two men both laugh, then to his dismay Ortega manages to bring the conversation back to his nose.

« Anyway, what I wanted to say before we got sidetracked was... I would wait a couple more days before jumping back, if I were you. Get that nose back to normal. The less excuses you have to make and keep track of, the better. That's why I don't like visiting the same time more than a couple of times. Too much effort. » he shrugged again.

It was surprisingly solid advice, and Turo nodded, grimacing a bit. He had hoped to jump back exactly three days later for both him and Sada to try and keep the two timelines as coherent as possible- if nothing else, for his own sanity, because the second jump being an entire month for him and barely a week for her had already been confusing enough, but it looked like things rarely would be that easy to keep track of.

Still, as long as the disparity was only going to be a couple more days here and there, he could do it...

---

When he had gone back (and his nose gone back to normal) to Sada's camp he had expected to find her already there, but the place looked abandoned. No pelts or furs to mark a spot where she could have been sleeping, and even someone as clueless as him could see that the fire hadn't been used in days. She probably had gone back to her group for a couple of days.

He decides to light the fire himself while waiting for her to arrive, then sets himself down on the ground. He's brought a second notebook with him - it's not like he can bring anything more advanced than pen and paper to take notes in. Dropping some paper and a pen in the wrong century? No problem, it will decompose in no time and the most someone can do is doodling on it. Dropping an entire tablet?

Way more risky if someone else finds it.

The only exception is his suit, but even then, half of its function only really work when he goes back to his time. Sure, it's recording every single heart beat of his, or changes in body or external temperature, or fluctuations in hormones and stress levels, but he can't access the data here, and the suit itself literally only works for the one who wears it, keyed to their DNA.

He starts to jot down some observations about what has happened until now and what he wants to check today. Sada had showed him a drawing of what was unmistakably a Talonflame, and hadn't commented on it when he had drawn one himself: that could only mean that in this time Talonflame was already the same as the one he knew from documentaries and pictures. No weird changes like that Proto - Magikarp.

It made a certain amount of sense. Even in his time, not all Pokemon had slowly changed until they were basically recognised as different species like Miraidon and Cyclizar.

Some had simply gone extinct, not being able to adapt. Some (not many, admittedly, with the great majority of them being legendaries and mythicals that were so powerful they didn't need to change) hadn't felt the need to change further, like Magikarp.

He wanted to observe a Talonflame of this time if possible... But he was mostly interested in their feathers.

They were pretty famous for being completely fireproof: people had used them for creating fire- resistant clothes since ancient times, and he wanted to know if Sada knew about that property, but had had no idea how to ask her about it.

Easiest thing would be to just find some feathers and show her.

---

They had found some feathers, but not the ones he was interested in, and in the meantime, Turo's been forced to pretend that they are looking for them because he's cold.

He's not, the bodysuit is more than capable of keeping his body at a perfectly comfortable average temperature of 37°C at any time. But he knows that they surely don't look like warm clothes, and saying that he is fine would just look weird - and the last thing he needs is looking even weirder than he already does.

Still, the feather they have found is pretty big - big enough that the Pokemon it comes from must have an impressive wing span -, and Sada herself doesn't seem to know much about it. He slips the feather into his pocket, with half an idea of having the guys from the science department at Uvanja Academy run some DNA tests on it to try and identify what Pokémon it is.

The forest has gotten darker and darker as soon as the sun had gone down. Turo shouldn't be surprised, it's obvious that it would become dark, but... He had no idea it would be this dark. A total, impenetrable, pitch black darkness that looked ready to swallow them as soon as the fire on the little torch Sada was carrying fizzled out. Anything could be hiding out there.

He's suddenly incredibly aware of how spoiled living with artificial light always available has made him. True darkness simply does not exist anymore in his time... Except maybe the bottom of the ocean or something. Places were humans have no business living in any case.

Anywhere else, there is always a street lamp, or a display or a monitor that's on 24/7, or his Rotom Phone. His own clothes have stripes with a slight bioluminescence built into them.

His eyes simply are not used to not having even just a bit of light. And speaking of his clothes, Sada is staring at them, and it occurs to him that maybe wearing something that literally shouts where you are to any nocturnal Pokémon in the vicinity wasn't exactly the best of ideas. The fire could be put out, or brandished as a weapon in an emergency. His bodysuit... Not so much. He buttons up his lab coat (which is only slightly more stealthy due to his color, or lack thereof) to hide it completely.

She takes his hand, which he doesn't mind. It's starting to become a constant, her dragging him along and leading the way, but this time he finds himself frozen to the spot when he almost casually lifts his head to glance at the night sky.

He's never seen this many stars in real life.

Too much light pollution in the city, making the night sky look like a foggy black sheet with only the moon and the brighest stars managing to shine through.

Of course he's seen pictures, and documentaries, and those stupidly big photographs done with the latest telescopes with a resolution of a bajillion pixels where you could zoom in for a good while before getting tired and closing the tab. He's even gone to a planetarium a couple of times, but even that time, as cool as it had been, it still had only been a really good 3D picture projected on a (really big) screen.

There was no sense of depth on a picture or a screen. No way to reproduce the slight vertigo he was feeling in this moment, with the sky so impossibly open and vast over his head and everywhere he looked, just more and more stars.

Not a single silhouette of a building to cover it. No blinking lights from planes or satellites or space stations.

He kinda wants to keep staring at the sky for a while, but Sada keeps dragging him along and he can't do much else but follow her.

Still, he's pretty sure that he's got another stupid smile on his face that's impossible to stop.

---

He stands corrected: the smile melts off his face when they arrive back to camp and it becomes increasingly obvious that Sada expects him to spend the night with her.

Not with her, thank Arceus, but still to sleep at the camp until morning (and giving him some blankets made of what looks like thick Mamoswine fur while she is at it, because he's cold, of course).

From her point of view, it makes perfect sense.

From his point of view, it means he can't leave.

Not without going poof right in front of her, and that is, of course, bad.

"Rule number 1 of the time traveller manual" levels of bad. Don't get seen appearing or disappearing.

He needs to get a good distance away from her to avoid having the flash of light that accompanies his jumps alert her - or the entire forest for that matter -, but that is just not possible at the moment.

Turo's got the distinct impression that the woman is keeping an eye on him even while she is completely draped in blankets herself, ready to bolt and tackle him to the ground if he so much as tries to look like he wants to walk away and get his dumb ass eaten in the forest the instant he steps out of the circle of light, warmth and protection offered by the fire.

He finally gets an opportunity to slip away almost at dawn, when he is sure that she is fast asleep, but not before slowly and carefully leaving a message with the next date when they can meet up near her. Only two days.

---

It ends up being four on his time, because the time machine is completely booked in the following days, even in the night. That's also something that was starting to mess with him, having to come and go in the middle of the night, but it had surprisingly worked out this time. Spending an entire night in the past too nervous to sleep, then finally coming back at the crack of dawn and it still being like 3 AM felt amazing and had basically made his tired brain go "yesss, free sleepy time!" when he had come home and crashed asleep on the bed.

The next day, after finishing his report - he can already hear the jokes about "spending the night there"-, he submits a request for having some analysis performed on the feather he's brought back. He also makes them analyze the necklace. The answer arrives just a couple of hours later, mostly because there isn't too much to say.

Yes, DNA from the necklace and the feathers were a perfect match, so it is the same Pokémon.

No, they've got no idea what it is.

"You want us to try and look for the closest genetic relative? That's going to take a bit more"

"Sure, go ahead"

He had made sure to get the necklace back from them, though. By now it was starting to feel weird to not have it around his neck.

Turo stepped into the time machine, and immediately scowled when the first thing to greet him in the past is rain hitting him in the face. Great, he would have to charge his time-anchor manually this time if it didn't let up soon.

There had to be a better way to do this, he thought as he made his way towards the camp, boots squelching through the mud. Can't Porygon 568 check the weather for him before he jumps? An umbrella would have been weird, but he would have brought at least a jacket.

This time Sada is already waiting for him, even if it takes him a moment to recognize her; she's wearing what looks like a primitive grey cape with a hood to protect her from the rain, and a larger than usual bag slung on her back. She's definitely more prepared than him. Sada must be thinking something similar, because she just looks at him - hair plastered on his face, lab coat getting soaked, probably a tired dead look in his eyes- and shakes her head with half a smile.

« Come with me.»

By now her hand grasping his wrist and pulling him along is becoming a familiar sight; Sada hurries him along in the opposite direction they've been going two nights ago, walking increasingly uphill. After a couple of minutes his legs are already burning with pain from the effort; at least the time-anchor's getting charged. Sada, who is also carrying way more clothes and luggage than him, is barely breathing any faster than normal.

... was he horribly out of shape, or were people just built differently back then?

... both??

He slipped on the mud a couple of times and she grabs his arm with both hands to stop him from falling back down the hill, then mercifully stopped for a moment.

« Here » she offers him her spear to use as a makeshift walking stick, and he takes it after a second, feeling absolutely ridiculous. This thing was heavy: a good two meters long, the stone tip masterfully crafted to a sharp point and kept in place by fibers wrapped to make rope. And they used to throw these things.

His month spent reading up on Stone Age life has taught him one thing: the only reason humans had not only not gone exctinct by sharing the planet with Pokémon but had risen as the dominant species was thanks to their ability to just throw stuff really, really well. Almost everything else had come from that. Early hominids had literally evolved to throw stuff as efficiently as possible; hell, even the Pokéball, which they had based their entire society on after it's invention, had been developed to be thrown.

They could have made it so it had to be rolled. Or punched. Or simply pointed against the objective, but nah, they had decided "let's throw that, watch me nail that Bidoof on the head from 30 meters" (or at least, that's how he had always imagined the first practical demostration of the Pokéball to have gone down).

And that was just... wild to him. Even as heavy as it is, the spear helps quite a bit in keeping him upright while walking.

« Where... are we... going?» he heaved after a while. Sada turned around for a moment, looking at him a bit worried, then pointed at something that rested at the very top of the hill. He squinted through the rain; the green and brown of the forest disappeared towards a massive crag. Near its base, a rock overhang created a natural space shielded from the rain.

With a sigh of relief, Turo forces himself to climb the last couple hundred meters until they reach the entrance of the cave.

He fumbles for his time-anchor while sitting down on the ground and clicks a button to take note of the current coordinates; no way was he going to climb that hill again if he could avoid it.

Meanwhile, Sada just looks like she did nothing more than have a nice leasurely stroll. She pulls down her hood and sits down near him with a smile.

« Hi.» he smiled a bit in response; they have both picked up words from the other, he usually more words from her than the opposite, so hearing her speak something in his language is still kind of strange.

Turo takes off his lab coat to leave it to dry, and can't help but notice that Sada is staring at it. With an amused chuckle, he remembers how fascinated by it she seemed to be on their first meeting and offers it to the woman, who stared at him wide-eyed for a moment before taking it with both hands and examining it.

« What creature is it?» she wondered.

« It's not... here. » he answered slowly after a moment. Better just to tell her that it came from some Pokémon that lived incredibly far away.

« Where my, umm... people are.» he added, remembering the word after a short moment.

Technically the truth. She pouted, evidently disappointed, then gives him back the lab coat and goes for her bag. He's actually been curious about that: it's held shut with strips of leather, and is probably full of everything she needs to set up camp somewhere. There's blankets rolled up, her smaller leather pouch where she seems to gather berries and other perishables, and of course, the notebook, hidden inside one of the blankets... to protect it from the rain, probably. He smiled almost proudly - of course she would be careful like that.

Sada took the notebook out and flipped it open; he shuffled a bit closer, ready for another language lesson, but the page is completely empty. She actually looks a bit embarassed all of a sudden.

« I, umm.... » she pointed to her own cape and hood, then to his bodysuit.

« "Clothes" »

Turo nodded, not sure where she was going with this.

Sada started to rummage in her bag again; usually he is the one to embarass himself in front of her, so seeing her mutter something under her breath while avoiding his gaze is... the only word he can find is "precious".

It's adorable.

« Turo's clothes, um... cold. So I... make clothes... my people clothes... » she showed him what she had taken out of the bag: a big bundle of cloth of various sizes and color, the furs obviously coming from different Pokémon. And in her other hand, what's obviously a needle made out of bone.

She wants to... oh man.

Looks like he's getting those "historically accurate clothes" after all.
 
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